Rental Property: DIY Energy Improvements

How To Improve Energy Consumption In A Rental Space

Rental Property: DIY Energy Improvements

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Live in a rental property, but still want to reduce your energy consumption or utility costs? It’s difficult to know what actions you can take to improve your home when you are renting from a landlord or live in an apartment complex. But there are always opportunities to improve! This week’s blog will give you tips to increase your electric and gas utility savings.

In case you missed our last blog, here’s where to find more about reducing your water bill!

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Your gas and electric usage can vary depending on the appliances and type of heating/cooling system in your home. But regardless of what systems you have, there are some simple tips and tricks to follow to help reduce your energy consumption.

Does it matter what time of day I run my appliances? 

Depending on what city you live in, electric rates can change during peak hours of the day. If this applies to your city, this means that during the normal 9-5 work day when all the factories and offices are running, the electric demand is higher and therefore the cost per kWh increases during that time frame. So, to reduce your monthly usage bill, be sure to run appliances such as the dishwasher, washer and dryer at night time or early morning when the demand is not as high. This holds true in the summer when running your AC unit—it is helpful to set them to a higher temperature during the day while you’re away to reduce your bill. We will dive into this more on the next blog.

How much does lighting make a difference?

LED’s have become the big improvement when it comes to lighting and the quality of LEDs has improved significantly over the last couple of years. Homes with old lighting fixtures and incandescent light bulbs spend 30% or more of their electrical bill on lighting alone. When replacing old lighting fixtures, be sure to use LED bulbs instead of CFL or halogen bulbs. Remember to always turn the lights off when you leave a room and try to open window shades and curtains to let in natural light during the day instead of using light fixtures. More natural light can also help with mood and sleep.

How do schedules improve energy consumption?

Whether you already have smart home technology or are looking to add some, there are relatively cheap, temporary options for your rental property to help with schedule savings. Programmable thermostats allow you to schedule setback temperatures during the day while you’re out of the house and temperatures at night to allow for less energy consumption. A simple programmable thermostat can cost around $100 to self-install if you don’t already have one—but be sure to check with your landlord before installing. If you already have a thermostat with smart scheduling capability, be sure to use it and make sure it is not set to a permanent ‘HOLD’ overriding any schedules set.  There are also light bulbs that can be controlled by a smartphone app and allow you to create schedules. At my house I created a morning schedule for my smart lights to all turn off when I leave for work, reducing the amount of electricity as compared to if I left them on all day.  For other appliances that don’t have scheduling capability, such as a window AC unit, smart plugs can be used to create schedules through your smart home hub, Google Home or Alexa. We will explore more smart home tech in a future blog.

Do plug and outlet loads make a large impact?

Utilizing power strips can be an easy way to turn off power sucking electronics. Some electronics that are turned off but still plugged in will consume energy throughout the day because they are in ‘standby mode’—these products are often referred to as ‘energy vampires’. Items such as your TV, cable box, gaming consoles, and stereos may be consuming power even after you’ve turned them off, which can cost you up to $150 a year. To reduce this ‘vampire’ energy use and lower your bills, plug all your devices into one power strip that you can switch to off when they are not in use. However, note that if you have a DVR cable box you do not want this to turn off, as it will not record anything without power. Other items around your house to try to unplug when not in use or put on a power strip include printers, coffee makers, toasters, blenders, computer chargers, phone chargers, hair appliances and any other devices that have LED screens running. It’s hard to unplug every single thing, but working to minimize how much is plugged into an outlet and connecting things to switch power strips can help reduce your energy waste! Smart home tech can help you here as well with smart switch power strips, which can connect to Google Home or Alexa.

How can I stop my old appliances from draining energy?

When it comes to rental apartments, there’s not much you can do to replace or fix old appliances. However, having the filters cleaned out in any AC units and the vent from your dryer can help improve the efficiency of these appliances. Backed up dryer vents can cause the dryer to work harder and use more energy.

A full fridge also uses less energy to cool, since food, veggies and liquids hold the cold better than air. So put your drinks in the fridge when you have excess of space. The same applies for the freezer.

I have used dryer sheets in the past, then switched to plastic dryer balls, however for the last half year I have been using wool dryer balls. They replace your dryer sheets, saving resources by not having to buy dryer sheets, shorten the drying cycle, are reusable, chemical free, and also reduce wrinkles and lint. You can also add a scent of your liking by dropping essential oil on wool ball. Lavender is my current favorite. Using a wool ball can shorten drying times by 10 minutes for the same load of laundry and best of all I'll never run out of dryer sheets, because they are no longer needed.

Otherwise run your appliances such as dishwasher and washer when they are full. Half loads use more energy over time.


In the next blog, we will go through more heating and cooling tips for winter and summer that can help you lower your energy consumption even more!

So, what are you going to do reduce your energy consumption and monthly bills?

*Please note we are not affiliated with any of the listed products, these are products we have used in the past and have proven to work for us or our clients.

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